Formula 1 star Fernando Alonso will turn his first laps at Daytona International Speedway this week as he gears up for the Rolex 24 Hours later this month.
Two-time F1 world champion Alonso will drive the United Autosports Ligier JS P217 in which he will take on the American sportcar classic in this weekend’s ROAR before the 24 official test.
“It’s a true pleasure to go back racing in the States, in front of the US fans,” said Alonso. “In less than a year I will have competed in two legendary races, which makes me very proud.
"I have always wanted to challenge myself in other categories of motorsport, as this is what you need to become a better driver.
“Going out of my comfort zone by taking part in such an iconic race as the Daytona 24 Hours is just amazing. I am looking forward to racing for United Autosports, the reigning European LMP3 champions.”
Alonso has already tested the Ligier at Aragon in November, but this will be the first time he shares a car with teammates in his racing career.
“At the test we had in Spain in November, everyone made me feel extremely welcome and part of the family and I’m happy to be spending more time with the team and my teammates in a few days, at the ROAR,” he added.
“I just cannot wait to jump in the car again and drive on the famous oval. In the last couple of months I have been spending time watching several Daytona 24 Hours, which made me even keener to go out there and try myself. It’s going to be fun!”
The Anglo-American United squad will field two cars in the 56th running of the event. Alonso teams up with Lando Norris and Phil Hanson in the #23 car, while Bruno Senna and Paul di Resta join United’s regular LMP2 racers, Will Owen and Hugo de Sadeleer, in the #32 Ligier.
European F3 champion Norris, who previously tested the car with di Resta at Paul Ricard, said: “I’m really looking forward to the ROAR and to go and meet all my teammates properly. I’m looking forward to being back in a car after a bit of a break, which is one of the many things I’m excited about.
“I’m heading out to America for the first time ever, which will be a new experience for me. It will be good to prepare properly with United and my teammates for the 24-hour race and really get to grips with the car and the track.
"We can start putting everything together as one team so we can try and maximise the test days we have going into Daytona.”
Senna is the only driver not to have completed any laps in the Ligier, although he is no stranger to LMP2 and prototype racing, having won the 2017 WEC LMP2 championship.